William Sokolin of Water Mill died on April 28 in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his family. He was 85.
As a young man, Mr. Sokolin attended Horace Mann in Riverdale and Tufts University, where he excelled in sports. Survivors said he would recall a big moment in his life when he signed with Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers “and saw images of Hank Greenberg dancing around him.” He left the Dodgers for the U.S. Army during the Korean War. When he returned from military service, he went directly into the family’s liquor business, which his father had opened on Madison Avenue in 1934, immediately after Prohibition ended. Mr. Sokolin discovered his passion for wine long before it reached the masses in America, and he innovatively changed the focus of the store from liquor to wine by 1959.
A pioneering force in the fine and rare wine business, Mr. Sokolin was considered one of the leading experts on the subject of wine and wine investing. He was a published author of “Liquid Assets” and “The Complete Wine Investor” and essentially invented the concept of fine wine investment in the Bordeaux market in the mid-1960s. He was known not only for his vast wine knowledge, but also for his charm, leaving customers with wonderful and memorable shopping experiences. He was once famously quoted as saying: “What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.”
Mr. Sokolin is survived by his wife, Gloria Sokolin; children, Deanne and David Sokolin; a son-in-law, Glenn Goldstein; and grandchildren, Jeremy and Lilly Goldstein.
Funeral services are private.